Evel Knievel: A look behind the twisted designScott Rutherford
Amusement Today, August 1, 2008

Editors note: GCII designer Jeff Pike explains
the inspiration for Six Flags St. Louis' new Evel Knievel wooden roller coaster.

"The roots of Evel Knievel actually go back almost eight years when I was developing a layout for a new park project on the Atlantic coast. I wanted the ride to give off a coastal vibe, so I drew inspiration from [Fred Church's] Santa Cruz & San Diego Giant Dippers along with photos of his Cyclone Racer and Savin Rock Thunderbolt.

"The function and aesthetics must be just right to capture the closeness, intimacy and thrill that those legendary boardwalk coasters created. Those rides were almost always built with limited space, and they often became gateways that separated the mundane man-made world from nature's most powerful and breathtaking vistas. The connection is softened, however, since the coaster's flowing lines remind one of an elegant and simple portrait, not unlike the clean, simple curve of the horizon over the water, yet they remain functional and mechanical, much like the hardness of the cars, buildings and machines of the everyday world.

"These structures beckoned riders and spectators alike, inviting them to get up close and personal with the rides' grace, beauty and aggressiveness. Every element has a purpose, and that purpose, although not specifically recognized by those who ride, is pervasive in a sort of mysterious and haunting feeling that the coaster craves attention and needs to be thrilling the masses in order to be complete.

"Although the design didn't end up on a beach on the East Coast, the installation at Six Flags St. Louis proved that the appeal of such a coaster - its personality - is contained more in the spirit of those who ride it than what happens around it. "I couldn't be more thrilled with the result of this project. Everything - the grace, the aggressiveness, the thrills - it's all still there. Everyone at Six Flags made sure the coaster blended with its surroundings, and guests will be able to appreciate the ride in some way (even non-riders) since it can be approached from every angle in one way or another.

"Oh, yeah ... the ride rocks, too!"

Reproduced with permission.